Saint-Jean-de-Luz & Biarittz

On one of our day trips we decided to visit Saint-Jean-de-Luz. It’s a very pretty fishing town not far from the Spanish border. It has a lovely walkway alongside the fishing boats. Its most famous guest remains King Louis XIV who married the Spanish princess Maria Teresa in the church of St John the Baptist in 1660.

We wandered around the town and then decided to have lunch at a lovely big sidewalk café. We had experienced the strict dining rules in France where restaurants only serve lunch between 12 and 2pm and you will be turned away, if you do not sit by 130pm. So, it was the first thing we did. We were the only English-speaking people that we heard. The plat du jour was guinea fowl, but I was not brave enough and rather had some very yummy duck.

We then went to the lovely church, where this famous marriage had occurred. The marriage is one of the most important political marriages in history that brought an end to a bitter war between France and Spain. Today, visitors of the cathedral can see that the main door is bricked off. Two legends circulate this oddity: First, it has been said that the door the couple passed through was later closed to represent the closing of the troubles between France and Spain. A more popular theory among the locals is that the king, Louis XIV, ordered the door to be closed off, so no other couple could walk into the church to be married in his footsteps. (Wikipedia)

Time was running out, but we still wanted to see something of Biarittz. We found it to be very busy with very little available parking, but amazing views. It is a famous tourist, luxurious seaside destination.

We chose to visit the Rock of the Virgin Mary. The rock owes its name to the statue of the Virgin Mary looking out to sea from atop the rocky outcrop since 1865. Legend has it that fishermen from the port of Biarritz were caught in a terrible storm while out at sea hunting whales. A divine light guided them back to port and the survivors erected a statue of the Virgin Mary in gratitude. Napoleon III decided to cut a tunnel through the rock and had a bridge built to make it accessible from the seafront. The views were beautiful.

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